THE Zambia Police should stop using security concerns as an excuse for cancelling political meetings by opposition political parties, Orange Alliance spokesperson Eric Chanda has charged.
Mr Chanda said opposition political parties in fact did not need protection of police to provide security during their meetings because, according to him, the political parties had enough manpower to police their own gatherings.
Mr Chanda told Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja that he lacked professionalism in discharging his duties and accused the Police Command of receiving instructions from politicians in Government.
This was during Mr. Kanganja’s presentation on the Public Order Act (POA) and the police’s preparation for the 2016 elections at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday during the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) meeting with political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs)
But Mr Kanganja said police were committed to upholding the law of the land so that democracy and good governance could thrive.
He said police had taken note of concerns by the opposition political parties, adding that it would do everything within its power to ensure that the law was applied fairly and firmly to all.
Mr Kanganja advised political parties and cadres to desist from engaging in violence and carrying offensive weapons in public.
He said police had the mandate to cancel meetings for political parties even after being notified especially where it appeared that there were security concerns which would affect convenors and the members of the public.
Mr Kanganja said it was unfortunate that people often opted to go against police advice, warning that such conduct amounted to committing an offence under the Penal Code.
“In respect of selective application of the Public Order Act (POA), the Zambia Police has been applying the POA according to the provisions of the law in its current form. Our expectations are that other stakeholders will abide by the provisions of the law. The police are required to be notified on time.
“Where we are unable to police such events because of other constraints or whether the authorising officer is of the view that in the best interest of the would-be convenors or members of the general public police have proposed alternative dates as provided for by the law,” Mr. Kanganja.
But Mr. Chanda said propagating the cancellation of meetings organised by opposition political parties while hiding in the name of maintaining peace was a gimmick aimed at preventing the opposition from holding meetings because they did not need any protection from the police as they had enough security.
“What security concerns are you talking about? Actually we do not even need your security because we have over 200 security men who can protect us from anyone who would want to cause problems during our meetings. We don’t need your security,” Mr. Chanda said.